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Published on March 3rd 2014


The Edmonton Oilers signed goalie Ben Scrivens today. It's a two-year contract for $2.3M and represents a good deal for both sides. Scrivens gets his first significant payday, and the Oilers have the opportunity to see if Scrivens can grow into a top-quality NHL starter.

The deal also offers us a chance to look at value in a couple ways.

First, let's look at the original cost, a third round pick. What IS the value of a third round selection? Well, there have been studies on it, Jonathan Willis combines several in an article here. One of the articles he references (from Jason Gregor) suggests the chances of getting an NHL player in the third round is 1 in 7, or about 14%.

The odds of Ben Scrivens being worth more than 14% of a 'decent NHLer' are high, and that means the trade is good value.

Which brings me to my favorite thing about finding players: hidden gems. I learned the value of hidden gems by watching the Houston Astros of my youth lose them for nothing. Long story short, in about 1972 the Astros had a bunch of left spectrum players (1B, 3B, LF, RF) all in a bunch. The names don't matter (John Mayberry, Cliff Johnson) but several had successful careers, none with Houston. Mayberry was a young talent of some promise the day they sent him away, because they didn't need him anymore. Why? They had just acquired Lee May (similar player, with more flaws) for Joe Morgan among others. You can read more here or just Google 'Astros horrible stupid dumb move Lee May John Mayberry' and something will flag.

The point is this: If you're looking for something, like a potential starting goalie, find a team with a lot of potential goalies. LAK have some nice things there, decided to move on from Scrivens and were looking for a very and specific item. The Oilers provided it and now have what may be exceptional value.

Textbook stuff. Why doesn't it happen more often? Two reasons: a smart GM like Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles rarely finds himself in that position. Second, often poor teams don't gather enough good players for this kind of thing to make itself obvious. The Astros of that era were astounding at drafting and procuring talent, and developing that talent. Their GM was addled.

In this case, Craig MacTavish saw an opportunity and took advantage. If you do that often enough, you can be a GM for a long time.

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